| Pushkar Shah has seen the worst of what mankind has to offer
during his six-year bicycle trek through 60 countries to promote
But despite attacks by
robbers and even a kidnapping, it is the stories of living off
the land and the kindness of his fellow man that brings a smile
to Shah's face.
Fairborn resident Nischal
Shrestha, a native of Shah's home country of Nepal and a
supporter of his quest, is housing Shah during his stop. Shah,
36, rode his bike to Dayton last week from Canada and will leave
today for Los Angeles. His next stop is Africa.
Shah, a peace activist in
college and witness to violence throughout his life in Nepal,
left home in 1998 with the goal of visiting every country in the
world to promote peace.
He said he thinks by 2009
his journey will be complete. He wants to end the quest by
climbing Mount Everest and staking a flag from 150 nations in a
show of solidarity for peace.
"We are one world, one
heart. We have one sun, one moon — we are of one world," he
said. "One man cannot change everything. We all have to be a
personal messenger of peace."
Nepal, between China and
India, is slightly larger than Arkansas and is home to the
Himalayan mountains. Shah said his story is a lesson about hope
and never losing sight of it — about forging ahead despite pain,
hunger and thirst.
His mission grew out of a
tortured past — literally.
Shah said his father was
killed in 1986 in a terrorist attack. And as a young man, Shah
said, he was beaten and tortured by police while he was a peace
activist before graduating from the University of Kathmandu.
He began he journey with
just 100 Nepalese rupees ($1.50), handed to him by his mother.
But as his story spread, cash donations came in through a Web
site that tracks his progress. He uses the money to buy airline
tickets to cross the oceans. Offers of shelter and assistance
during his travels also came from around the globe.
Even so, there are many
days that Shah goes without food, and some meals are as meager
as discarded orange peels or fruits from trees and plants.
There also are those days
he looks back on and knows he's lucky to be alive.
While in Mexico in late
2003 and in dire need of water, Shah said he was resting under a
tree by the roadside when a truck pulled up. Three men lured him
into the truck, where one pulled a knife and knocked him
When he awoke on the truck
floor, Shah said he knew they were going to kill him, so decided
to try to fight his way out of the truck.
He managed to escape into
the desert with cuts and bruises.
Five days later, police
found the assailants and recovered his bike, thanks to Shah, who
memorized the truck's license plate number.
Then there was the time in
Barbados when a man sneaked into his tent and beat him up even
after Shah offered what little money he had.
But Shah said those bad
memories are more than balanced by the people who offer him
meals and shelter, or help in other small ways.
"Everyday, I ask please
send me today one more person (who) is kind," he said.
In March 2001, it was Sir
Edmund Hilary who came to Shah's aid.
Hilary, the first man to
climb to the top of Mount Everest, heard about Shah after his
bike was stolen while he was in New Zealand and paid for him to
get a new bike.
You Can also view his
website at http://www.pushkarshah.com